Posts Tagged ‘Abraham Lincoln’

“When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d . . . .”

April 23, 2009

Poet Walt Whitman penned that beautiful opening to his poem by the same title in the turbulent wake of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. The poem expressed his inner certainty. The heady scent of lilac blossoms, as sweet to the nose as is their purple color to the eyes, fresh and tender with the cleanliness of April rain drops dripping from their heart-shaped leaves – from then on, their poignant beauty would remind him sadly of his beloved president’s death. And so the power of the poet ripples out to all of us.

dennis20090423This week, nurtured by soaking, sustaining rains, lilacs are opening their fragrant and tiny blossoms in grapelike clusters throughout Delaware’s Cape Region. Because of Whitman, the rich sweetness of those blossoms flows into the nasal portals of my most reminiscent sense and connects directly with the poem-driven knowledge that Lincoln died on April 15, 1865, shot in the back of the head the night before by John Wilkes Booth.

Poets and artists live in different dimensions than most of us. Allowing their minds, their imaginations and their talents to take them into realms that many of us resist, they invite us to open the doors to perception through which they have already passed. Jim Morrison of The Doors sang: “Break on through to the other side . . . .” Whitman, with his lilacs, reminds us that there are realms defined by the past worthy of sad, melancholy and, in their own curious ways, beautiful and constructive reflection. Through that reflection we can find ourselves too, breaking through to other dimensions of human existence.